Coping with Crisis: Does Democracy Foster or Hamper it? Based on the Example of Switzerland |

Coping with Crisis: Does Democracy Foster or Hamper it? Based on the Example of Switzerland


European countries face numerous problems that need to be resolved: high national debt, fierce global competition that causes national economies to struggle, an uncertain future with respect to energy supplies, an aging society that precipitates rising costs in health care, etc.

Legislatures and governments in Europe are often reluctant to make unpopular decisions which experts deem unavoidable, for example, a higher retirement age, budget cuts, and looser regulations that enable the economy to be more competitive. It may not come as a surprise that, under such circumstances, democracy as it exists is under scrutiny.

In Switzerland, most crucial decisions need not only the approval of the elected members of Parliament but also of its citizens. Referenda and initiatives are an important element in the decision-making process. Switzerland is therefore an interesting case study for the analysis of the role of democracy in coping with political challenges and crises.

Does such an unparalleled application of direct democracy block a country or is it, to the contrary, a catalyst for outcome-oriented good governance? What lessons can be learned for the future shaping of governments and the role of citizens around the world?

The presentation is based on an analysis of Swiss institutions and selected policy decisions.

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Dr. Reto Steiner, Professor, Center of Competence for Public Management, University of Bern (Switzerland), Visiting Research Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Thursday, 25 April 2013
12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Seminar Room 3-5,
Level 3, Manasseh Meyer,
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,
469C Bukit Timah Road,
Singapore 259772

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